Coco is a young female African Grey parrot who was collected by Animalcouriers from her owner, Karen, in south west France in late September 2011. Karen and her husband were on their way to Nigeria to work. They asked us to take Coco to the UK and then arrange her flight to Nigeria.

Having sent other pets to Nigeria before, we had discovered a very helpful agent in Lagos, so we were confident all would be well.

We had no problem obtaining the export documentation for Coco as she was captive bred and has a closed ring with an identity number on her leg, and supporting documents. The problems lay at the Nigerian end and the need to obtain both a CITES import permit and an ordinary import permit.

We sent in the applications but heard nothing, so followed up with phone calls directly and through our agents. The civil servants claimed they had received nothing, even though we could verify that the applications had in fact arrived. Then we had to provide proof that the documentation was the genuine article. Delay followed delay and excuse followed excuse.

If you’ve been following political events in Nigeria over the last six months you’ll know they’ve been having a hectic time. Terrorist bombings and riots in the streets over fuel price increases have meant that many government offices were closed during this period — not surprising but still frustrating.

The only person who could ultimately sanction Coco’s move was a government minister. Several times we were told that the document would be dealt with that day, only to be told later it hadn’t happened as the official had been called away to another part of the country or had to attend an important meeting.

On several occasions our agent in Lagos sent staff to collect the documents in the capital city Abuja, only to find nothing was available after all.

So after nearly six months Karen has thrown in the towel. Even though the paperwork might have eventually been forthcoming, we were all starting to worry that if it’s this difficult to get Coco into Nigeria, how difficult would it be to get her out? So Coco is going back to France to live with Karen’s close friend. Karen intends to split her time between Nigeria and France so she can still see her.

We know Karen has missed Coco terribly and we can understand why. She has been staying in the home of courier M and is both an intelligent and a delightful companion.

Being an African Grey she is a great mimic and has learnt to copy the phone ringing, can imitate the yapping of M’s mother-in-law’s Border Terrier, has learnt the names of everyone in the house, and has almost mastered the theme tune from the Archers.

When clients call they must think we are a very busy office as Coco carries  on one of her own phone conversations in the background. These start with “hello”, usually feature a mention of “three cats”, and end with the sound of the receiver being replaced.

We will miss her when she is gone but she is a great time waster. She’s often up to something and is very distracting with her chatter and her acrobatics. She loves interacting with people so it’s a great temptation to have a chat with her or give her titbits and make a fuss of her.

Even Amber the Golden Retriever will miss her as Coco not only calls her but entertains herself by dropping grapes, peanuts and other treats for Amber. Coco then tries to catch Amber’s tail. Amber hasn’t worked out the real purpose of Coco’s largesse and is just grateful for the treats.

African Grey Coco…

…a delightful companion